February 2023 Community Program: TRIO Upward Bound and TRIO Talent Search

For nearly 60 years, Case Western Reserve University has participated in federal programs that expand access to postsecondary education for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The first program, the TRIO Upward Bound pre-college program, was established at the university in 1966. Today, TRIO Upward Bound at Case Western Reserve is funded to serve up to 113 high school students from a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school, as well as Euclid High School. The second program, TRIO Talent Search, has been administered at the university since 1998. TRIO Talent Search is funded to serve as many as 500 students in grades 6-12 who attend East Cleveland City Schools and Euclid City Schools. The program identifies students who have the potential to succeed in higher education and who come from low-income households. 

Both TRIO Upward Bound and TRIO Talent Search provide students with the support they need to succeed in and graduate from high school and, importantly, to prepare for what’s next. There is no charge for students to participate in the programs, though they must meet specific academic and economic criteria to join. The university actively recruits students for both programs year round.

Although some TRIO program participants end up attending Case Western Reserve University, Erica Calderon, director of the university’s TRIO programs, says the goal is to prepare students for the college or university that is right for them. 

The support services for both programs come in the form of tutoring that’s administered either at Case Western Reserve or on-site at the students’ school, counseling and advising, planning college field trips and providing assistance with college admissions, scholarship applications, financial aid forms and standardized test preparation. Students who participate in Upward Bound attend two Saturday classes each month—one of which is a social-emotional readiness class and the other, a financial literacy class. 

“We want the students to be able to manage their personal, mental and financial wellness, not just their academic success,” Calderon says. 

Both Upward Bound and Talent Search have positive track records—prior to the COVID pandemic, as many as 70-percent of the programs’ participants went on to pursue a two- or four-year degree. That percentage has fallen off in recent years, as Calderon says that more students enter the workforce because they do not feel financially secure.

“The pandemic has made things hard. A lot of our students experienced significant trauma during that time,” Calderon says. “But we try to get students to see that if they invest in their education after high school, they will be better off later on.” 

The university has additional capacity for students to participate in both programs. Interested families and students can learn more about TRIO Talent Search eligibility requirements and TRIO Upward Bound eligibility requirements.